July 21, 2004 12:33:15pm
NYT Amusement Zone Story
NYT, May 6, 1939
Concessionaires Win Demand That Fair Complete Zone Now
AMUSEMENT MEN LODGE PROTESTS
Whalen Pledges Action After Lack of Facilities Are (sic) Bitterly Scored
SOME THREATEN TO SUE
Many Angrily Complain at a Stormy Meeting at Which a Committee is Named
Irate over construction delays that have paralyzed activities in the World's Fair amusement area, a group of concessionaires, after meeting yesterday to denounce the Fair management and talk about possible damage suits, won from Grover A. Whalen, Fair president, a promise of immediate action on adjustment of their complaints.
After hearing the concessionaires' bitter criticism of lack of adequate lighting and power and incomplete pavements within the amusement area, Mr. Whalen promised a completed lighting system and pavements by next Wednesday, May 10, instead of May 13 -- the day he previously had fixed for "official opening" of the amusement area.
Mr. Whalen's office confirmed this promise and also that he has promised nightly shows of fireworks over Fountain Lake in the amusement area at 9:30 to liven up the area.
The concessionaires' committee also reported that Mr. Whalen had agreed to consider plans to erect more signs directing Fair visitors to the amusement area and to provide better transportation to that section. They also asked him to consider reducing the price of admission to the Fair from 75 cents to 50 cents in the evenings to induce visitors to come after the exhibitions elsewhere on the Fair Grounds are closed, but they obtained no definite commitment on this point.
Approximately thirty showmen, members of the Concessionaires Association, met yesterday noon at Midway Inn to rake the Fair management over the coals. Their committee managed to get an audience with Mr. Whalen and Jay Downer, chairman of the amusement board of control, about 7 o'clock, and discussed the concessionaires' problems for more than an hour and a half.
The fireworks were touched off at the noon meeting, preceding the later conference with Mr. Whalen, when one irate concessionaire, who has money invested in more than half a dozen shows, pounded a table with his fist and ripped out a string of expletives expressing his own opinion of how the amusement area has been treated by the Fair management.
Soon nearly all of the concessionaires were pounding and shouting their grievances until the air was purple with their angry charges. It took some repeated and superior pounding by Harry Baker, president of the Concessionaires Association, to restore a semblance of order.
"They can't do this to me!" one speaker shouted. "This is the first time I have been in the exposition business. I did alright for myself before I got into this thing, and I tell you gentlemen, I wouldn't get into it again for $1,000,000. But if they think they can kick me around like this while I'm losing the shirt off my back, I'll fight 'em! I'll take 'em into court on it!"
The man with the string of shows gained the floor again and yelled:
"Now I ain't gonna do a thing unless you guys are all with me? Are you with me?"
"Yes!" they all shouted.
"Then let's get up a committee and send it to Whalen and tell him in plain language that he can understand just what in the hell we want and that we got to have it! But I'm not going along unless you guys -- the whole association -- are behind me!"
The committee idea met with a roar of approval.
This post was modified by ridetheory on 2004-07-21 19:33:15